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George Mason Basketball

George Mason Basketball: March 2009

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Puerto Rico Tip-off field almost set

The field for November's Puerto Rico Tip-off is almost set. The Patriots join a field that includes UAB, Dayton, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Kansas State and Villanova. An eighth team is yet to be announced. Five of these seven teams were in the post season this year and Villanova is still dancing in the Final Four. Meanwhile, Georgia Tech has the #1 rated prospect coming in and there's no way Indiana can be much worse than last year, so the field is looking pretty good. This tournament could give the Patriots a real test early on and hopefully some quality wins.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sherrod Wright update

Update today from Zagsblog on potential 2009 recruit Sherrod Wright on his recent campus visit to Fairfax:
Sherrod Wright just finished up his official visit to George Mason and said he enjoyed it.

“It was good, I liked it,” the 6-foot-4 wing from Mount Vernon (N.Y.) High wrote in a text.

Wright spent Thursday-Saturday on the campus of the Virginia school.

Several other schools are also in the mix for Wright, including Hofstra, Seton Hall, South Florida and Central Florida.

He said he’s not sure what his schedule is going forward.

“I’m not sure yet,” he said.

The NCAA late signing period begins April 15.

A man of few words.

In other news VCU's Anthony Grant officially takes the Alabama job.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Patriot's 2009 recruiting class not complete?

Apparently coach Larranaga might not be finished with his next recruiting class. The kid's name is Sherrod Wright, a 6'4" wing from Mount Vernon, NY and this would be a rare late signing period pick-up for the Patriots. Last week Wright had a home visit from Larranaga and assistant Chris Caputo (recruiting genuis) and the source states that everything seemed to go well. Today the site is reporting that Wright is scheduled for an official campus visit this weekend, which is really a good sign. Both rivals and have him listed as the #35 shooting guard prospect in the nation and in his last high school game he scored 25 points which makes you wonder how this kid isn't committed to somewhere yet despite getting looks from the Big East and the ACC. This move is coming because of the mid-season departure of Vlad Moldoveanu which leaves a scholarship open but considering they already have an '09 class of five and redshirt Kevin Foster entering the mix next season I don't understand why they wouldn't save this last scholarship. Stay tuned.

Picture from SNY



Monday, March 23, 2009

Cinderella not dancing in 2009

You won't be hearing any team being referred to as "this year's George Mason" for the rest of this year's NCAA tournament. Only high seeds remain and Arizona being a 12 is no cinderella story, especially when they were favored in their first round game. Yahoo sports talks about this era of chalk and I think it just validates the craziness of George Mason's 2006 run. You almost have to wonder if after Mason's magic carpet ride BCS teams have wised up. No longer will they look past the scrappy, tenacious mid-major starting four guards and a 6'6" center. A lot was said this year about mid-majors not getting any respect on selection sunday but even as a mid-major fan I couldn't argue much with the numbers. The mids just didn't get it done in the out of conference slate this season and nowhere was that more evident than in the CAA. At-large bubble team St. Marys was a great squad this year but Arizona beat top-50 teams and they didn't. I hope this isn't a downward trend for mid-majors in the NCAA tournament as they have provided the most excitement in March during the last couple of years.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Patriots lose heartbreaker in OT

Video of the last second shot by Talor Battle:

Mason looked as if they had their first quality road win locked up with about 5 secs to play, then Talor Battle threw up an off balance three-pointer at the buzzer to send the came into overtime. Momentum suddenly shifted and Mason fans knew their season was about to come to an end. In OT Battle, who wasn't shooting particulary great until that buzzer beater, added 8 more and ended the Patriots season. Many people have been emailing me asking why Larranaga didn't intentionally fould to prevent the Nittany Lions from even attempting a three, here is what a local PA newsite had to say about it:
"Patriots' head coach Jim Larranaga doesn't have his team foul when leading by three late in the game because it has defended the perimeter so well all year. The Patriots are ranked 14th nationally in 3-point field goal defense."
Every coach has their own philosophy and anyone who has watched Larranaga over the years should know he doesn't foul in that situation and it has worked in the past. The guy threw up a prayer and it went in, that's college basketball, not really something you can work on in practice. Regardless, we still saw a Patriots squad play the whole 40 minutes on the road, with the freshmen scoring 30 points and sophomore Cam Long leading with the way with 16. Anyone excited for a back court next season with Cornelius and Long? Dre Smith started off strong knocking down his first two three-pointer attempts but then went 0-for-6 from there to finish the game. JV and Darryl Monroe played solid but didn't come up big when the Patriots needed to make a play. Louis Birdsong shuffling his feet on an in-bounds created a crucial turnover late that hurt Mason. If the younger guys didn't step up who knows how this one would have turned out. Disappointing end to one of those 'what could have been' seasons but it's hard to keep your head down with the talent on this squad and the experience they got this year.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Watch Mason vs Penn State here

Monday, March 16, 2009

What to expect from the Nittany Lions

Penn State probably feels like most bubble teams right now, happy to keep playing but wishing they weren't left out of the big dance. The Nittany Lions had six top 50 wins but their cupcake non-conference schedule is what brought them to the NIT. They have beaten the best in the Big Ten and will be another difficult road challenge for the Patriots. Penn State relies heavily on three players and the three-point shot. Senior guard Stanley Pringle, who made headlines last year for being charged with public masturbation, has been shooting over 46% from behind the arch. Two other starters shoot over 34% from there as well and Mason cannot let them do damage from there as Creighton did. Inside play will be key for the Patriots as the Lions don't have a lot of size or depth inside. They are well disciplined on defense like the Patriots and don't commit fouls or turnovers too often. Both teams are horrible from the free-throw line, so this could be an interesting one if it's close late. Look for Mason to try to go inside early and hopefully Ryan Pearson is at full strength. If they can grind it out inside the low post I think Mason can cause the upset here but if they let Penn State's guard get wide open three-point looks all night it will get ugly real fast. Cam Long didn't have a great game against VCU in the CAA finals, another 4 point game from him and the Patriots won't have a chance. Also, seniors Dre Smith and John Vaughan will be pumped for this and how they start off the game could determine if the Patriots are still in it during the 2nd half.

Video from

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Mason to face Penn State in NIT

Penn State it is, Tuesday at 8 pm on ESPNU. Get your green beer ready.

Full bracket here

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Possible Mason NIT opponent, Georgetown?

Coming up on about 24 hours til Selection Sunday and unless something crazy happens in that meeting room it looks like Mason is preparing for a NIT invite. Mason's ticket office has already emailed fans about plans for purchasing either home or away seats for March 17 or 18 (TBD). But who could the Patriots end up playing? Before yesterday I was hoping Maryland would stumble against Wake Forest so that I could still dream of booing Gary Williams at the Patriot Center. The Terps are most likely going to the big dance after yesterday's win but another local BCS school isn't: Georgetown. The same Hoyas squad that was at one time ranked as high as #7 in the nation imploded down the stretch and was never really even a bubble team towards the end of the season. So sunk so far off the radar some analysts are thinking even an NIT bid isn't a lock for the Hoyas. One website has them as a 5 seed in the NIT (Mason also a 5), which I can definitely agree with. Washington Times writer Patrick Stevens drew up a mock NIT bracket and he has the Patriots as a 4 seed playing Georgetown in the first round. Also there's a chat from the WaPo where this topic gets a little discussion. Could you imagine Georgetown vs Mason at the Patriot Center in March? A team that refuses to play any local mid-major teams being forced to travel to Fairfax, would head coach John Thompson III refuse to play in the NIT, you have to wonder? If I was in the NIT selection committee you can't tell me this match-up wouldn't be enticing, a local rivalry that could never happen anywhere else but in a tournament. We already saw Georgetown vs Maryland thanks to the Old Spice Classic earlier this season, imagine what another one of these local battles would do for the future of DC area college basketball. Also, a rematch of last year's NCAA tournament first round game against Notre Dame is not out of the question either, oh the possibilities. The NIT pairings are announced Sunday night at 9pm on ESPNU after the NCAA tournament selection show.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

The end of an era

Great little tribute video to the 2009 seniors, which includes the last remaining members of the 2006 Final Four squad. Although they did not get to enjoy the same success in their last season as the seniors of '06 and '08, they still gave us some good memories.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Maynor, Sanders help VCU rout Mason in CAA title game

At the start of the season I didn't think we could reach this game but somehow the Patriots got it together at certain times to make it happen. A loss to VCU always stings, especially on national TV with an auto-bid to the dance on the line. It wasn't even the fact that Mason lost to a better team, but rather how they lost. trys to say in their headlines that Mason "fell short", but anyone who watched that game knows that was an old fashion butt kicking. VCU controlled the game from the opening tip and the Patriots never had a chance. VCU looked confident and they felt like they could do anything, while the Patriots looked like a deer in headlights for most of the 1st half. Standing and watching in awe as Larry Sanders owned the paint and Eric Maynor was left to run wild. The fact that Larry Sanders was 3 blocked shots away from a triple-double is just embarassing for a team that prides itself on strong defense. Sanders had 13 rebounds in the first half, which really tells the story right there. You knew Maynor was going to get his 20+ points, but containing Sanders and not letting him get those easy dunks was something that should have been a point of emphasis. Mike Morrison stood up to Sanders in the 1st half but it didn't seem like anyone else was up to the task. Monroe and Birdsong combined for 6 points and it wasn't even because they were in foul trouble. Cam Long and JV were just non-factors and helped the Patriots collectively shoot a season-worst 30.5%. Dre Smith's box score might look good but it was mostly threes made in the 2nd half when the game was far out of reach. Once the 2nd half began you thought a small comeback might happen, as the Patriots have been in this position many times before on the road. Instead we saw about five minutes go by without a field goal and Mason actually looked worse. VCU was determined last night and I don't think there was any way Mason could have beaten them even with shots falling. Don't get discouraged, the future is bright and we all know that.

Post Game Video from

NIT hopes:
Looking good, a few websites have us at a #5 seed, which means a home game could be possible if they win in the first round of the tournament. My sophomore year I was lucky enough to see the Patriots beat Tennessee at the Patriot Center in the NIT and I'd love to see another BCS school come to Fairfax in March. It all depends on how the rest of these conferences tournaments end and how the bubble teams get placed.

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Monday, March 09, 2009

CAA Championship Live Blog and Chat

A little motivational video before tonight's game

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Mason advances to CAA championship

UPDATE: from "Spoke to Coach Larranaga for our pregame interview, and he reports that Dre Smith’s nose hurts, but is not broken. Smith will start the game with a protective mask, but once he gets running around and sweating it will be a matter of comfort."

So here we are Monday night, ready to take on VCU for the CAA title. Yesterday's game was a little scary at times but give credit to Towson, as they played Mason to the wire and never backed down. The Patriots had been there before, finding themselves down in a tournament game and knowing they had to play smart in order to survive. I think most of us would agree there was the usual three-point launch attempts in this one that we didn't see against JMU. I felt like the Patriots could have stayed out of trouble if they kept feeding their post players more earlier in the game. Be that as it may, Mason still closed this game out with strong performances from Cam Long and Darryl Monroe. The Patriots needed some big shots from Long and he gave them just that, with a wild long range three-pointer late in the 2nd as the final dagger. Dre Smith looked more comfortable in this one and hit a three at the 1st half buzzer while also scoring in the paint through lay-ups. Once again free-throws were an issue, as the team went only 6-for-13 from there. Considering how often VCU fouls this could be a serious issue tonight. The Patriots bench was a non-factor and with playing their third game in three days, that's a little scary. Pearson is putting off surgery to this hand so he can play in this tournament, but him not being 100% really hurts Mason's depth. Tate and Cornelius will have to contribute more than they did yesterday and they need to stay out of foul trouble.

VCU has not looked dominant yet in this tournament and let ODU hang around yesterday, despite their best player being hobbled, by repeatedly sending them to the line. Mason will have to sink some free-throws as they will need the advantage and take points where they can get them. It's hard to bank on the fact that Long and Vaughan will be lighting it up from long range tonight. I would much rather see them drive to the lane and get Larry Sanders into foul trouble early. That would make things a lot easier for Mason's front court. But let's be honest the real story of this game is how Mason will try to defend the Eric Maynor show. JV was out when they faced this team earlier in the season and he will have to pressure Maynor for the full 40 min. Cam Long and JV will have to step up and again be strong leaders for Mason tonight.

Live blog and chat again tonight, starting at 6:30 pm. Game is on ESPN2

video from

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Watch Mason vs Towson and Live Blog

Saturday Post Game

This stream should be working for the game tonight, it's currently showing the VCU-ODU game now. No sound though.

Radio Link ESPN 980

More post game photos here from John Tatum

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Mason vs James Madison Live Blog

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Friday, March 06, 2009

More Pre Tourney Links


Thursday, March 05, 2009

Thursday shoot around

According to Ryan Pearson participated fully in today's practice while still being bandaged.

Photos courtesy of


Vaughan and Monroe named to 2nd team All-CAA

A balanced team isn't going to yield too many player of the year awards but a bunch of Mason players were still honored Thursday night at the awards dinner:
"Vaughan and Monroe were named second-team All-CAA, Long was named third-team All-CAA, Pearson was named to the All-Rookie Team and Vaughan was named to the All-Defensive Team."

Pre Tournament Links

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

What does Mason have to do to win this thing?

The Patriots are about 72 hours from the start of their CAA title defense and a lot of questions still remain. Free-throw shooting, Pearson's injury, and offensive consistency are some of the main gripes most Mason fans are worried about heading into this weekend. Some are saying this tournament is up for grabs, but I really don't see a repeat of last year and I'd be shocked to not see at least one of the top 3 seeds in the championship. It has been a down year for the CAA in terms of that national recognition that most of us have gotten used to; while the teams have themselves to blame for this outcome. Not to say their won't be upsets this year and that's why I think it was so important for Mason that they locked up a first-round bye. The Patriots will have to rely on stout defense and ball control to end up playing on Monday night. In this year's most impressive win, they have gotten it done by making the opposing squad play their style of basketball. In these games they set the pace and did not let the other guys get into any kind of rhythmn, forcing them to take bad shots and risky passes. Take a look at last year's opponents' FG% who faced Mason in Richmond: Northeastern 35.9, UNCW 28.1, W&M 38. Sure, it would be nice to see the Patriots drain threes all day but there's no way they are going to beat teams this weekend from the behind the arch. And defensive low scoring games can get a lot of players into foul trouble and Ryan Pearson needs to be in the Mason lineup as they will need everyone. No doubt JV and Dre will have to have a good showing on both ends for Mason to be successful this weekend as they are an intrical part to the balanced attack. But you know what your gonna get from those two seniors and with Cam Long you don't. He has shown flashes of brillance at times this season and he gives you the idea that he can take over games if needed, will he?

Don't forget to be here Saturday for the live blogging and chat.


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Live blogging at the CAA Tournament

Thanks to my relationship with Rush the Court, I will be attending this year's CAA Tournament with media credentials! I don't know what to expect but I can tell you this, I will have excellent coverage for this weekend's games. I will basically be covering the whole tournament for Rush the Court and will be live blogging a game for them Saturday and Sunday. In addition I will be live blogging all the Mason games this weekend from the sidelines. If you don't know what a live blog is it's basically real-time commenting and analysis as it happens. I will be using Coveritlive software, so all of you will be able to post your comments and questions as well in real time. For a demo of what I'm talking about go here. Also, check out for the web streaming and TV line-up info.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Update on Pearson's injury

Good news regarding Ryan Pearson's injury that kept him out of Saturday's game:
"George Mason received some good news when X-rays revealed that freshman forward Ryan Pearson does not have any broken bones in his right hand. A school spokesman said that Pearson remains day-to-day. It is not known whether he will be ready to play in the Patriots' Colonial Athletic Association tournament opener on Saturday. The two-time CAA rookie of the week missed Saturday's 71-59 victory over Towson, sitting on the bench with his hand heavily taped, particularly his ring and pinky fingers. Pearson averages 7.3 points and 3.8 rebounds per game for Mason."
He still has a few days to take it easy and get some treatment before this weekend, but will he be 100%? His absence or limited play would not doubt hurt the Patriots depth, especially when you consider having the possibility of playing three games in three days.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Post Game: Towson

John Vaughan diving into the front row, in case you missed it.

Pictures from


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